Libertyville weighs Metra station upgrades, new downtown housing
Two big projects just west of Milwaukee Avenue in downtown Libertyville finally may be advancing from the concept stage pending village board action.
Trustees today will consider separate but related proposals to build Arts and Crafts-style residences on a former industrial property and to seek bids for a $1.1 million makeover of the Metra station.
The first involves what is known as the Trimm property, which long has been envisioned for residential use but come up empty, due in part to the required removal of contaminated soil from a portion of the site.
Village trustees will discuss a plan commission report recommending a variety of approvals for the proposed Station Square development, a plan by Lake Forest architect Rick Swanson for 56 apartments, 34 townhouses and four single-family homes.
The plan has been revised as a result of input from four public sessions beginning last fall. Reducing the number of residences from 136 to 94 and replacing duplexes on Lake Street with single-family homes were among the changes.
A staff review of the proposal cites a vibrant and active downtown commercial area, as well as an increase in commuter rail ridership, with shifting demand from single-family homes to high-quality townhouses and apartments.
As such, the requested zoning change reflects market preferences, according to the findings. The development would be compatible with the neighborhoods to the south and west and be a transition to the shops and restaurants to the east, according to the findings.
Acceptance of the plan commission report generally is considered a precursor to official approval.
Recent proposals for new housing have been viewed critically by residents due to safety, traffic and other concerns. For example, well-organized opposition contributed to the rejection this past March of the 148-home Oak Trails proposal in farm field west of Lake Street.
However, given the reduction of proposed units from 136 to 94 and other revisions, that kind of opposition is not expected with Station Square.
"It's not that often that I get a hug from an objector, and that would not have happened if not for civil communication between all affected parties," Swanson said.
The recommended approval comes with 24 conditions, including finalization of a property exchange between the village and Swanson to allow for more commuter parking.
A renovated train station is the centerpiece of the master plan for the combined properties, according to Swanson, who was hired by the village to assist in the design of both.
"We feel this will be a significant improvement over what is there now and truly echo the rural character and charm of Libertyville," he said.
The village board today will consider authorizing the solicitation of bids for the station renovation, a process expected to take about 45 days.
In addition to the $1.2 million the village set aside for station upgrades, Metra will contribute $300,000 to the project.